Preparing for VONA

Darwin quotation

too true, but easier recognized than acted upon!

Today I did a bit of house-tidying, made two cards for friends (including the above), worked on a birthday present for my yoga teacher, and answered emails. I also began reading my fellow writers’ manuscripts for the upcoming VONA residency.

I’d been a little reluctant to read anyone else’s manuscripts, because (a) we’re not required to for the residency, and (b) I didn’t want my feelings about the pieces to affect my expectations about the residency. I knew I’d have strong opinions about the manuscripts, whether I loved or loathed them, and I didn’t want to spend weeks thinking about the program in light of “god, these other writers suck” or “oh no! they’re damn good! I suck!” I have so little idea of what to expect at VONA — and frankly, their “information” emails have not been informative, at least for those of us who aren’t staying on the USF campus — that my all-too-fertile imagination will grab onto anything and start spinning stories out of it. And while story-spinning is great for a writing residency, it’s not so good for anticipating the experience itself — much better to go in without expectations and just let it be what it is. I figure now that there are only three days left till the program starts, I can read freely.

There are nine other writers in my residency, and I’d already read one piece prior to today; today I read three more. Wow. I am really impressed. All four manuscripts I’ve now read are chapters of novels or memoirs, and they are incredibly good: compelling, original, unquestionably authentic. As drafts, they naturally need editing, but they’re all books I’d read gladly. I find myself looking forward to meeting their authors in person and getting to know them better… which is a grand way to feel, a few days before my opportunity to do just that!

Also: we have been given reading assignments for VONA homework. I feel uncomfortably like I’m in grad school again!